Well, I’ve had a travel partner for one year now. Anthony and I recently celebrated our first dating anniversary (awww, I know right) and we knew we had to go somewhere special.
So I took a Friday off of work and began planning where to go for a 3 day weekend. We knew it had to involve mountains and romance, so Lake Tahoe it is … Speaking of romance, fun fact my folks were hitched in Lake Tahoe!
Lake Tahoe is a beautiful lake that sits on the California & Nevada border that is known for its crystal clear water that was actually voted the U.S’s best tasting tap water. We rented a #lifegoals beautiful A-frame style cabin in Carnelian Bay, which is on the California side of the lake. Carnelian Bay and its surrounding small towns are a quiet and cozy alternative to the hustle and bustle of South Lake Tahoe and its funky downtown that’s filled with casinos and fun touristy shops.
The Journey to Tahoe
Getting to Lake Tahoe is half the fun when you take Highway 395 along the Eastern Sierras. This highway holds a special place in my heart, and it has some of my absolute favorite road side stops!
Some of my “must-do’s” are:
Indian Wells Brewing Co. (Indian Wells, CA)
- Damn good beer that’s most famous for their Mojave Red.
- Dog friendly patio with artificial turf and corn hole board.
- Popular destination for off-road enthusiasts (such as myself).
- My personal favorites are the Orange Amber Blossom and the Raspberry Ale.
Gus’s Fresh Jerky (Olancha, CA)
- You see the sign “REALLY GOOD JERKY 20 MILES AHEAD” and suddenly that long stretch of highway seems a bit longer
- It’s one of those road side stops that at first glance makes you say to yourself, “Really? This place?!” But judging by the dozen cars in the parking lot, you deem it’s safe and you pull over.
- You walk into the small shop and you’ll immediately be offered a sample of jerky, olives, and local honey.
- Then you’ll get to savor the best damn jerky I’ve ever had … There is no ripping into this jerky like a starved grizzly bear. Nay, I say this is melt in your mouth, I’ll take 3 bags please, jerky. Trust me … I bring extra cash just for this stop.
Erick Shat’s Bakkery (Bishop, CA)
- An ABSOLUTELY must stop for fresh baked goods.
- *WARNING* if your friends and family know you are passing through Bishop, be prepared for a large order to take home, I guarantee someone is going to ask you to bring back at least two bags worth of goods …
- Be prepared for the madness, this place is a zoo on the weekends! You will have to wait in line. You will suddenly develop claustrophobia … But I promise it’s worth it.
- The back parking lot is very small but there is more parking (and RV parking) across the street near the park.
- This is our usual lunch break stop. I highly suggest their deli sandwiches and please treat yourself to a frosted sugar cookie … they’re perfection.
- The usual items in my “To-Go” bag is their pull-a-part bread, energy loaf, and sourdough bread, but they’re most famous for their Sheepherder’s bread.
Mono Lake – South Tufas (Mono County, CA)
- Mono Lake is a fish-less saline lake just north of Mammoth.
- You could spend a whole weekend just learning about and exploring this unique lake, but my favorite spot to visit for a quick photo op is the South Tufas.
- The trail to the tufas is dog friendly!
We arrived in Lake Tahoe Friday evening and quickly popped open a bottle of wine to enjoy while Anthony cooked us a romantic dinner. This spring was a cold and wet one for Tahoe, so instead of hitting the town, we opted for a cozy night by the fire.
We only had one full day to experience Lake Tahoe, so we quickly fueled up with a homemade breakfast and hit the ground running. To say you’ve done Tahoe you have to accomplish three things: hike, go for a scenic drive, and play in the lake. That was our goal for the day .. Step One. Take a hike.
If you hike one trail in Lake Tahoe, I suggest hiking the Rubicon Trail from D L Bliss State Park to Vikingholm. This is a 10 mile easy/moderate there and back trail that runs right along the edge of the lake. It can be done in about 4 hours depending on your pace and how many photo stops you take a long the way (trust me there are plenty).
We started from the parking lot of D L Bliss SP and took a right at the trail head, following signs for Emerald Bay. It was a cool and cloudy morning, which was wonderful hiking weather, but was traded for poor picture quality of the famous blue water I had dreamed of for so long.
The trail eventually drops right to the water and there are plenty of places to stop for a break right along the shore. The trail is mostly flat with a slight decline so you’ll breeze through to Emerald Bay.
With its water having a stunning shade of green to it, you’ll see why they call it Emerald Bay. It was the perfect place to show off my new promise ring Anthony had given me a few days before (awww).
It’s just over 4.5 miles to Vikingsholm , which is a Scandinavian style castle that was built in the 1860s! Sadly, the castle was closed for the season during our visit but we will be back to take a tour!
We also took a small detour to the lower falls of Eagle Falls, and it was well worth the extra mile or so!
With a storm quickly approaching, we began our return trip back the way we came. Now let me be honest, I ain’t as fit a I once was … so that slight decline turned into a slight incline … for 5 damn miles. It’s completely doable, but I would suggest if you are out of shape such as myself, do a warm up hike the weekend before and bring plenty of water. As the day wears on, the higher elevation and sun can really get to ya!
The highlight of our hike is also a nice reminder that Lake Tahoe is bear country! On our return trip to the car I spotted an (adorable) black bear not too far from us. I quickly took my picture before it went about its business eventually being scared off by a group of hikers coming up the trail. But let this be a reminder to BE BEAR AWARE!
Lunch at Moe’s BBQ
According to my Fitbit, I had taken 23,782 steps and had burned 1,327 calories … so needless to say we earned some comfort food and we found it at Moe’s BBQ in Tahoe City. We feasted on pulled pork sandwiches, collard greens, baked potato casserole and three slices of cornbread … yes three, because they had some of the best cornbread I’ve ever had, and my Missourian boyfriend definitely approved.
Scenic Drive along Highway 89
Named one of America’s most beautiful drives, the 72 mile scenic drive around Lake Tahoe is an absolute must! This one of those drives that you can dedicate and entire day to or just a few hours.
This was a perfect way to spend our afternoon resting our legs from our morning hike, and is the best way to experience all the beauty that Lake Tahoe has to offer in a short amount of time.
Dinner at Jake’s On the Lake
We returned back to our cabin just before sunset and got dolled up for a romantic night out. Honestly, date nights are a rarity with us and Anthony had done a lot of research on “his big night”, and all signs pointed to Jake’s On The Lake in Tahoe City. Jake’s is well known for its waterfront dining and we would’ve had the perfect view for a sunset dinner … that is if it wasn’t raining and socked in with clouds. Once again, next time.
However, we did feast on a warm brie wedge, cocktails, scallops, ahi poke roll, and cheesecake … oh yah baby, you did good.
We returned to our dream cabin for the night and enjoyed, you guessed it, more wine, to reminisce about the past year and all of the memories we created together.
The next morning we woke up to a winter wonderland (in May)!
Living most of our lives in Southern California, it had been a long time since we woke up to white stuff on the ground and we felt like it was Christmas morning! It was the perfect ending to our romantic anniversary getaway.
So if you’re looking for a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of life, I would choose Lake Tahoe over and over again. If we had more time and the weather was warmer I would suggest bringing a kayak or SUP to float the day away in paradise, or take a hike to Inspiration Point, or maybe even Bonsai Rock.
But that’s the best part of traveling with someone you love, you’ll always find reasons to keep exploring.
Kerisa & Anthony